Photographing Greenland Icebergs

I recently traveled to Greenland along with Pro Team member Erez Marom to photograph icebergs drifting in the sea. It was an epic adventure! We were there in late July through early August near the peak of the midnight sun, and although the sun would set, the sky always remained bright. It was a surreal experience photographing massive icebergs for hours past midnight, and never seeing it get dark.

I photographed this iceberg in Greenland's Disko Bay using my drone, which I launched from a motorboat. DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/125 second.

We started our trip in the town of Ilulissat, located on the edge of Disko Bay on the western coast of Greenland. just south of the outflow of the Ilulissat Icefjord. Millions of tons of glacial ice gets trapped for years in the fjord before melting enough to break free for open water. As a result, there are typically a lot of icebergs drifting in Disko Bay on their way to the open ocean.

Water and warmth erodes even the largest icebergs, creating fantastical shapes and giant arches of ice. DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/25 second.

Although there are plenty of opportunities to view the icebergs from the land, we used a motorboat to get up close and personal with the bergs (although not too close, as icebergs often collapse or roll over without warning). The boat also gave us more flexibility to change position as required to find the best angles for photography.

This photo shows our boat below a massive iceberg in Disko Bay. DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, ISO 100, f/8, 1/20 second.

One of our favorite techniques was to find an iceberg that had a recent partial collapse of ice, with ice floes drifting away from the berg. By steering our boat into the floes, we could use the floating chunks of ice as leading visual elements in dynamic wide-angle compositions.

I waited until the gap in the ice floes was in front of me before triggering the shutter. The resulting shape complements the curving clouds above. Canon 5DIV, Canon 11-24mm f/4 lens, ISO 800, f/10, 1/160 second.

Although the boat was useful for getting us to the best icebergs, a water-level perspective was not always ideal for photography. So, Erez and I ended up shooting mostly using our drones, which we launched and landed (with great difficulty) from the boat. We had a few mishaps along the way, but amazingly, neither of us lost a drone during the entire trip.

My drone was especially useful for maneuvering around an iceberg to seek the best perspective to make a compelling photograph, such as with this leading line of ice floes. DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, ISO 100, f/8, 1/13 second.

After photographing Disko Bay, we moved on to the town of Uummannaq, located on an island dominated by a massive mountain. We used our boat to find nearby icebergs to juxtapose against the jagged peak in the background.

I vertically panned my drone's camera, later stitching the photos together on the computer to create this portrait-oriented image. DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/25 second.

Greenland is an epic and beautiful place, but don't just take my word for it! Check out the amazing video Erez and I filmed documenting our photo adventures, it's jam-packed with footage of jaw-dropping iceberg scenery and plenty of useful photo tips:

About the author: Whether hanging over the rim of an active volcano, braving the elements to photograph critically-endangered species, or trekking deep into the wilderness to places most people will never see, world-renowned professional photographer Ian Plant travels the globe seeking out amazing places and subjects in his never-ending quest to capture the beauty of our world with his camera. Known for his inspiring images and single-minded dedication to creating the perfect photo, Ian has reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world in his mission to inspire and educate others in the art of photography. Ian is a frequent contributor to many leading photo magazines, the author of numerous books and instructional videos, and founder of Shuttermonkeys.

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